Last week marked the end of summer, with the days getting noticeably shorter and the nights dropping towards freezing temps. All of this means puffy season is officially here. While no one denies the merits of a good insulated jacket, everyone continues to argue the benefits of down versus synthetic. Columbia asks the question—why not have both?
We all know that down packs a punch in the warmth for the weight department and scrunches down pretty small. If you are going to be exposed to wet or damp conditions, or are on a tight budget (the price of down has skyrocketed the past few years), synthetic is perhaps a better choice, even with the hydrophobic down options out there. Columbia decided to take the best qualities in each type of insulation and create a hybrid puffy jacket technology dubbed TurboDown or “down on steroids”.
TurboDown uses a combination of Omni-Heat Thermal synthetic insulation and treated goose down. The baffles in each puffy jacket are lined with the synthetic insulation placed closest to your skin, then topped up with water-resistant down—all protected by a water-resistant shell fabric. TurboDown comes in varying strengths created by using different levels of both synthetic insulation and down fill-power. For example, the Diamond 890 TurboDown Hooded Jacket, pictured above, features 850 fill goose down combined with 40 grams of Omni-Heat synthetic insulation.
Last winter, my Diamond 890 TurboDown jacket served as my multi-pitch belay jacket on all of my ice climbing adventures. Lightweight yet incredibly warm, the jacket stowed nicely in my Bullet Pack and for those shorter routes where I didn’t want to bring a pack, the jacket stuffed into its own pocket so that I could simply clip it to my harness.
The nice part of having a hybrid down/synthetic jacket, especially in winter, is that I never worried about climbing wet ice and ending up cold (at least in my core). Even if the down wet out, I knew there was enough synthetic insulation in there to keep me going to the end of the day.
A medium-sized, internal, zippered pocket comes in handy for keeping your cell phone or camera warm so the battery doesn’t die on you. Even though it would up the jacket weight a bit, I would love to see Columbia add an internal stash pocket. I would appreciate having a place to store my climbing gloves or even a pair of sunglasses when wearing the jacket.
The Columbia 890 TurboDown Hooded Down Jacket retails for $325 and is available now, along with all of the other TurboDown products. The jacket fits true to size. If you plan to wear a ton of layers underneath, you might want to go a size up.
As an aside, I wish brands would start listing the weight or amount of down used in a jacket, not just fill power. This will help consumers better compare the probable “warmth” of two similar jackets.